Protesters in Tel Aviv call for Israel to legalize marijuana


TEL AVIV (JTA) — Some 1,000 protesters gathered at Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square called on Israel to legalize marijuana.

Dubbed the “Cannabis March” by organizers, the protest on Saturday night began near the district courthouse in the Israeli city and ended at the central square. Several politicians and activists addressed the crowd there between musical performances and poetry readings.

Among the speakers were Tamar Zandberg of the left-wing Meretz party, and Knesset lawmakers Yinon Magal and Miki Zohar of the right-wing Jewish Home and Likud parties, respectively. Former Likud Knesset member Moshe Feiglin, an outspoken proponent of legalization, also spoke.

“This is something less dangerous than a cigarette and less addictive than a glass of whiskey,” Feiglin told the crowd. “We need to step out of this fear and make this a country of freedom.”

The march coincided with parallel events in cities around the world calling for marijuana legalization.

Recreational cannabis consumption is a criminal offense in Israel. Medical cannabis is legal, but patients must go through an often lengthy process to obtain it. A handful of Israeli politicians across parties have called for medical cannabis to be made more accessible, with some advocating decriminalization or full legalization.

Meretz is the only party in the Knesset pushing for marijuana legalization. A 2014 poll showed that a majority of Israelis opposed legalizing soft drugs, while a third supported legalization, according to the Israeli news website Mako.

At the event, attendees waved green flags, while others wore cutouts shaped like marijuana leaves. No one appeared to be smoking marijuana at the event, though one attendee handed out packs of rolling paper.

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